Before a bride walks down the aisle, she gets to experience one of the most fun parts of her engagement: the bridal shower. This sweet celebration allows the bride’s nearest and dearest to offer gifts and celebrate this milestone in her life.
Whether you are planning this important party, a guest invited to one, or a bride-to-be looking forward to it, there’s a lot to know about bridal showers. Keep reading to discover all you need to know, including a planning rundown, theme ideas, and the best etiquette advice.
What is a Bridal Shower?
A bridal shower is a classy celebration of a bride-to-be; It’s a daytime event that includes female friends and relatives. They’ll mingle, share advice and stores, and shower the bride with gifts.
The History of Bridal Showers
The history of bridal showers dates back to Holland in the 1500s, when a woman who wasn’t afforded a dowry would receive favors from friends and family before marrying.
We began to see our modern idea of a bridal shower form in the 20th century, as household items became commercially sold and weddings became bigger events.
The Difference Between A Bridal Shower And A Wedding Shower
A bridal shower is the traditional all-female affair, and a wedding shower is a co-ed event that includes the groom and male guests – it’s sometimes called a Jack-and-Jill shower.
Who Throws the Bridal Shower?
Typically the Maid of Honor throws the bridal shower as one of her primary responsibilities.
Sometimes a close female relative, like the bride or groom’s mother, will also throw a shower. But really, anyone can throw a bridal shower. Just make sure you have your own group of guests to invite so that people don’t have to attend endless showers.
Budgeting for a Bridal Shower
The cost to throw a bridal shower runs anywhere from $10 to $150 or more per guest. That’s a big range, but the good news is that the cost can be really flexible.
Here are the main items to budget for as you’re planning the shower:
- The Location: A hotel event room, a community center, or a restaurant’s private room are all options for a rented location. But you can keep costs down by hosting at a house.
- Food & Drink: Homemade food or a potluck is a cheap option, but catered platters will simplify the party prep a lot.
- Invitations: You can go with Evites or traditional invitations, depending on the type of party you’re throwing.
- Decorations: Don’t feel like you must have the entire event space decorated. A few vignettes of flowers, banners, and balloons will elevate any shower location.
- Favors: Favors aren’t a must-have for a bridal shower, but they are a nice offering.
- Games: Games don’t have to be costly, but there will likely be a few supplies needed, plus a prize for the winner.
- Supplies: Don’t forget to budget for miscellaneous supplies. Drinkware, serving utensils, plates, and ice are little things that can add up.
Who Pays for the Bridal Shower?
The host of any party is expected to brunt the cost, and that goes for the bridal shower too. The hostess may be surprised by other guests who offer to chip in for the party. You should be prepared to accept their help and include them in some of the planning decisions as well.
Location Ideas for Bridal Showers
One of your most significant decisions is where you’ll have the bridal shower. There are many options, and each one has its pros and cons. Take a look at these popular bridal shower locations and see which one might work well for your event:
- Home: this is the lowest cost option, since you don’t need to pay a fee to use the space. However, many hostesses find it stressful to clean and host in their homes.
- Community Center: This is an affordable option with lots of space and parking. However, you may need to book the room early to get a reservation, and you may find that it looks a little drab without many decorations.
- Hotel Event Space: This is a pricier option, but it will likely look really nice. Just check the policy for bringing in food and drink, as using hotel catering services can make it expensive.
- Park: A park pavilion will be a similar rental process to a community center, but there may be more availability. If you have a small, laid-back group, consider simply laying out blankets in the open park.
- Restaurant: Many restaurants have private rooms where you can host an event. This can be a pricey option since you must use their food and beverage, but it can also be a lot of fun, and many restaurants are already fully decorated with a nice aesthetic.
- Church: If the bride’s church has an event room, this could be a great place to host the shower.
- The Wedding Venue: Some wedding venues offer rentals for bridal showers. It’s an excellent way for the bride to relax and enjoy her venue before the wedding day, but it could be pricey.
Who to Invite to a Bridal Shower
Talk with the bride to see who she wants at her celebration. She could include female relatives and in-laws, along with friends and coworkers.
Bridal showers can range from 5 guests to 50 or more, so there’s no firm number to stick to. We think about 15 people work best for a bridal shower.
Bridal Shower Timing
You’ll want to throw the bridal shower 1-3 months before the wedding day. The key to the timing is that it’s close enough to the wedding that she can talk about specific plans, but not so close that it’s within her final wedding planning scramble.
Most bridal showers are either brunch events in the late morning, or in the afternoon. They’ll probably last 2-4 hours – enough time to mingle, eat, open gifts, and play games.
Bridal Shower Dress Code
Dressy Casual is the best bet for your bridal shower attire. Don’t go too bold or too drab, and avoid white since the bride may be wearing that color.
However, the theme of the shower could influence your outfit choice. While you don’t want to go overboard in full costume, a nod to the theme will help you look your best and feel confident.
Bridal Shower Themes
Most bridal showers involve some kind of theme that will guide your decoration decisions and keep everything organized.
Keep reading to discover the most popular bridal shower themes and how to tie them into the entire event.
Create an Italian-inspired ambiance or a Napa-style soiree with a wine bridal shower. You’ll want to showcase some great vino at the celebration, and your decoration can include a lot of greenery.
You don’t have to live near the ocean to have a beach-themed bridal shower. You can celebrate by a pool or park. Make it Hawaiian-inspired with leis and colorful decor, or coastal chic with soft blues and sandy neutrals.
Many bridal showers fall into a garden theme, since it’s easy to achieve with flowers and pastels. You can have this theme at an indoor event, but it works best in a springtime park or yard.
The most romantic city in the world for the most romantic season of her life. Have a Paris-inspired party with French banners and appetizers, and welcome guests with champagne and macaroons. Include French music and pretty shades of pink.
A Disney-themed shower is perfect for any princess or child at heart. Go general and include the entire House of Mouse in the event, or focus on a specific movie that the bride loves.
One of the most Instagram-worthy themes is a boho shower. This should include flower crowns, macrame, and dreamy neutrals. Make sure to get lots of great photos to post!
A countryside shower calls for a rustic theme. Baby’s Breath, Mason Jars, and wood elements will all be featured in your party, and the bride-to-be can wear a cowgirl hat or boots.
The wine will flow, and the charcuterie board will be top-notch at an Italy Bridal Shower. Transport your guests to this romantic country with instrumental music, pasta, and delightful flowers.
If you’re hosting a bridal shower in Autumn, use the season as your theme. The crisp air and colorful leaves will create a cozy atmosphere, which you can complete with hot cider and warm-toned decor.
A summertime shower can be as formal as a tasteful garden party, or a laid-back pool bash. Include ice cold drinks, bright colors, and fun music. Have the party catered or grab food to cook on the grill.
Ideas for Bridal Shower Games & Activities
Bridal shower games are a careful balance. You don’t want to overdo it with endless activities, but a few casual games can help break the ice and keep everyone engaged.
We’ve put together the most popular bridal shower game ideas – choose a couple to include in your party.
Pro Tip: Prepare a simple prize for the game winner. A mug with a $10 Starbucks card or a single-serve Mimosa kit with a glass, orange juice, and a small champagne bottle.
Get everyone mixing and mingling by creating a Bingo board of clues. Guests must find someone who has been married for more than 30 years, someone engaged (besides the guest of honor), or a non-relative who has known the bride for more than ten years.
See how well the guests know the soon-to-be newlyweds. Ask questions about how they first met, who made the first move, and how they got engaged.
Toilet Paper Bride
Divide the party into teams of two – a model and a designer. The designer dresses the model in a toilet paper wedding dress, and all the guests vote for the winning team.
Each guest writes down their dream celebrity husband, and the entries are mixed in a hat. The hostess reads them, and the guests can guess who wrote each one.
Pictionary is a classic party game, and the hostess can easily customize it for a bridal shower by including wedding-related themes. Divide the party into two teams or make it a free-for-all that’s just for fun.
Sharing Funny Memories
If your group isn’t much for games, you can invite guests to share funny memories of the couple or just the bride-to-be. A guided conversation is a great ice breaker if party games make you cringe.
Fill a tub with ice and plastic rings. Each guest must see how many rings they can get out of the bucket using only their feet. This is a fun game for a summer or beach-themed party.
Popular Bridal Shower Favors
Party favors aren’t as common as they once were, but they’re still a great way to express gratitude for coming and gifting the bride-to-be. Here are our favorite bridal shower favors that are easy and thoughtful:
- A local treat like honey, jam, or syrup
- Individually Wrapped Cookies
- Flower Seed Packs with a mini pot
- Plastic Sunglasses
- On-theme mugs or cups
- A bud vase or small flower bouquet
- Gourmet candy
- Small Succulents
- Hand Sanitizers with a custom label
- A mini bottle of wine
Bridal Shower Gift Ideas & Examples
The gifts are the central part of the bridal shower. After all, that’s where the celebration got its name.
Most couples create a registry, so your best bet is to stick with that list. Here are the most common bridal shower gifts:
- Dining Ware, like plates, cups, and cutlery.
- Cookware – Pots, pans, and gadgets
- Towels and bath supplies
- A stand mixer
- Pajamas and robes (nothing risque – save that for the bachelorette party)
- Cheese Boards, cocktail supplies, and other items for entertaining
- Outdoor supplies, like patio chairs, grilling equipment, or gardening tools
- Home Decor
How To Plan A Bridal Shower
If you’ve decided to plan a bridal shower, you have a big job. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve created a quick rundown of everything you need to do for the shower, so the bride-to-be in your life can be blissfully showered with gifts and love.
Set your budget early in the planning process. This may require doing a little bit of research first, like how much your location rental will be, how much catering runs, and how many guests you’ll invite.
Choose a date that’s 1 – 3 months before the wedding. Make sure it works for the bride and any key guests and that there’s a location available that day. A weekend day will work best.
- Guest List
You’ll want to work with the bride to create the guest list. As the hostess, you should ensure that you’re comfortable accommodating the entire group. If not, see about splitting the list into smaller parties, which could be more fun for everyone.
Once you know how many people you’ll have, it’s time to secure the location. If you have it at home, then this is an easy task to check off your list.
Now it’s time to invite everyone on your guest list. Evites could be appropriate for a small and simple shower. But classic mailed invitations will be best if you’re having a more traditional party with older guests or high-end gifters.
Send your bridal shower invitations about four weeks before the event.
- Food & Drink
Consider the time of day as you create your menu. If the shower falls in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, appetizers and finger foods could be fine. But a brunch or lunch reception will need a more filling offering.
You can also plan the kind of drinks you want. Have a dry shower with only punch, sodas, and water, or include alcohol.
Choosing decorations for the shower is fun but can get out of hand quickly. So choose carefully if you’re on a budget. You don’t have to decorate the entire space. Instead, you can select different areas to dress up, like the dessert table and where the bride will sit to open presents.
Choose two or three games to play during the shower. When selecting the games, consider the size and demographic of your guests. A younger group may like making toilet paper dresses, while older guests might appreciate a simple trivia game.
Don’t forget to make an awesome playlist for your party. The music should be clean and on-theme. Subscribe to a premium music app to set up a full playlist and keep it on throughout the event.
Bridal Shower Etiquette
Like any traditional party, a bridal shower has many unspoken rules and etiquette. Don’t worry, we’ve put together the top tips, so you don’t make any faux pas as you throw or attend a shower:
- If you’ve been invited to multiple showers for the same bride, it’s ok to just bring a gift to the first one.
- A hostess can include the couple’s registry information in the invitation or share the info through word of mouth.
- Bridal showers are typically small, intimate events, so keep the guest list as small as possible. This way, the bride can interact with all the guests, and it doesn’t end up being hours of opening presents.
- The bride doesn’t throw her own shower. Older tradition says that nobody in the bride’s family should throw it, but these days the parents sometimes do host.
- Avoid giving cash or gift cards at a bridal shower, since it can be awkward to open in front of guests.
- The bride should always send out thank you cards after the shower.
- You do need to give a gift both for the shower and the wedding, but they don’t have to be equal in value.
Showering With Style
The bridal shower is a fun and sweet part of any woman’s engagement. And with some thoughtfulness and care, you can be sure that the shower you’re throwing or attending is fit for the wonderful bride-to-be.